Scout Report: Joe Murphy
With Paul Rachubka and Richard Kingson released, and Matt Gilks seemingly nearing the exit door also, there's no doubt that signing a goalkeeper or two this summer will be pretty high up Ian Holloway's list of priorities.
As of yet, no keepers have really been linked with the Seasiders, but Joe Murphy's name has been mentioned by several members on our forums, so I thought I would take a look at him. Remember, you can add your own suggestions for transfer targets and discuss anything to do with BFC on our forums 24/7... if you're not already registered and posting, get involved!
Joe Murphy began his career at Tranmere and enjoyed a run in the team from an early age, playing in the 2000 League Cup final at the age of just 18.
In July 2002, Murphy joined West Brom on a 'free' transfer (the Baggies had to pay Tranmere a fee set by a tribunal as compensation because although Murphy was out of contract at Prenton Park, he was too young to qualify for a Bosman). However, he found opportunities limited at The Hawthorns and joined Walsall on loan for the majority of the 2004/5 season before signing for Sunderland.
Murphy found opportunities even fewer and further between at The Stadium of Light and found himself back at the Bescot on loan during the 2005/6 season.
He then signed for Scunthorpe permanently in May 2006 after being released by Sunderland, stating that at the age of 24 all he wanted was first team football.
And first team football he got, clocking up nearly 200 league appearances for the Iron in a five year spell at the club.
In his debut season at Glanford Park, Murphy was named in the League One team of the season after the Iron won League One. He also picked up the league's 'Golden Gloves' award for recording the most clean sheets.
It was a similar story when the Iron found themselves back in League One in 2008/9 following their relegation from the Championship as he was yet again named in the League One team of the year.
At the end of that season Murphy was out of contract, but signed a new deal with the Iron, stating that he owed the club for all that it had done for him.
However, that deal expired this summer, and with Scunthorpe being relegated back to League One, Murphy stated that he would not be signing a new deal at Glanford Park, resulting in the club releasing him.
His decision not to sign a new deal with Alan Knill's side is understandable; he has already proved himself at League One level, and also wants to break back into the Republic or Ireland squad, having two caps to his name to date (something that would be very hard to do playing in the third tier).
Aged 29, Murphy still has several years left in the tank, and nor would his wage demands be massive; Scunthorpe had the lowest wage bill in the Championship during their spell there (yes, even lower than ours!).
However, whilst he's undoubtedly a good goalkeeper, I'd suggest that he is not better/not noticeably better than the goalkeepers we had on our books this season. Indeed, it's probably fair to describe him as being a solid all-round Championship keeper.
Bar his capacity to make good reflex saves, he doesn't really have any outstanding positive attributes. On the flipside however, he can be quite eccentric and rash; indeed, he has been dismissed twice in his career against the Seasiders (once for Walsall and once for Scunthorpe), whilst in the 2008/9 League One playoff final he was at fault for both goals that Scunthorpe conceded; being lobbed for the first after straying off his line, and spilling an easy save for the second.
One thing in his favour though is that he is taller than Matt Gilks, Paul Rachubka and Richard Kingson, meaning that he has the potential to be more of a commanding presence than those three.
Ultimately though, if the Seasiders are truly focused on building a side capable of returning to the Premier League, I'd suggest that we should be looking at better keepers than Murphy to be our first choice.